ROCHESTER — Leading for most of the way before Rochester climbed back into it, the W.F. West baseball team fired off five runs in the first extra inning frame, and that would be enough to seal a 2A Evergreen Conference-opening win at Heinz-Rotter Field Tuesday afternoon, 10-5.
Leading 5-2 headed into the bottom half of the seventh, the Bearcats couldn’t quite close the door on the win in seven. The Warriors took advantage of a few errors to put runners at first and second, and Tate Quarnstrom brought Rochester to within a run after slapping a single to score one, and another error leading to the runner from first crossing home plate to make it 5-4.
Two batters later, Hayden Pietras doubled on a long shot to left field, scoring Quarnstrom to make it a brand new ballgame headed to the eighth, but this time, the Bearcats put away the Warriors for good.
W.F. West was patient in the batter’s box, and drew two walks, and were hit by Rochester pitchers four times to put five runs on the board in the top of the eighth.
“Our guys came in ready to go, they battled their butts off,” W.F. West coach Jesse Elam said. “They did what we needed them to do.”
That would prove to be too big a deficit for Rochester, who fell 10-5 and didn’t want to dip too deep into its pitching depth for a matchup Wednesday against W.F. West in Chehalis.
The Warriors got a decent start out of Braden Hartley, who had just two earned runs against him with a slew of errors leading to early Bearcat runs, but Rochester couldn’t play catchup again after falling behind again in extras.
“Guys got a little bit tired,” Rochester coach Brad Quarnstrom said. “Once the wheels fall off they’re hard to get back on. Jyson (O’Connor) and Braden both threw well. We didn’t support them too well, but for Jyson to come in where he did down four runs, he kept us in the game, that was huge of him.”
Hunter Lutman was terrific for the Bearcats on the mound, throwing the first five innings and allowing just one hit with eight strikeouts and just three walks. The only run Rochester managed against Lutman came off a mistake from W.F. West’s catcher with the bases loaded, allowing a runner to steal home on a pickoff attempt.
“Lutman was lights out today pounding the zone that’s exactly what we need out of him and we picked up our other two guys,” Elam said. “He came out and had a plan and he did it. He’s figuring it out and that’s very good to see. I’m super confident in him right now.”
Lutman’s early brilliance led to a 5-1 lead, before Rochester managed a late comeback after getting ahead of the count in several at-bats in the seventh.
Quarnstrom finished 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs and runs, and Pietras game-tying double was also a highlight for the Warriors in the box.
On the other end, Ross Kelley went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI for the Bearcats with a double.
Gavin Fugate earned the save on the hill, pitching the last two innings and allowing just three runs, with none earned, with four punchouts.
The squads will battle it out again Wednesday in Chehalis in another big early season league contest featuring two teams with postseason hopes.
“It’s a big win, but we have to show up and play tomorrow,” Elam said. “That’s what it comes down to. This one is in the past and we have to move on and keep competing our butts off.”